In 1930, Severt W. Thurston and Frank Dupar of Seattle, Washington met unexpectedly during breakfast at a diner in Yakima, Washington. The competing hotel owners decided to form a management company to handle all their properties, and help deal with the crippling effects of the ongoing Great Depression. The men invited Peter and Adolph Schmidt, who operated five hotels in the Puget Sound area, to join them, and together they established Western Hotels. The chain consisted of 17 properties, 16 in Washington and one in Boise, Idaho.Western Hotels expanded to Vancouver, British Columbia and Portland, Oregon in 1931, and by 1941 into Alaska and California, assuming management of the Sir Francis Drake Hotel the day after Pearl Harbor was bombed. By the early 1950s, Western also had properties in Montana and Utah.
Early management developed each property individually. After more than two decades of rapid growth, many of its properties were merged into a single corporate structure in 1958, focusing on bringing the hotels together under a common chain identity. Also in 1958, Western Hotels assumed management of three hotels in Guatemala, its first properties outside the US and Canada. Western opened its first hotel in Mexico in 1961. That same year, they opened the first hotel to be both constructed and owned by the chain, The Bayshore Inn in Vancouver.